Laos: Small Country, Great Adventure

Tripoto
17th Feb 2014

Nam Song River

Photo of Laos: Small Country, Great Adventure by Hot Toddies Unlimited

Mekong River

Photo of Laos: Small Country, Great Adventure by Hot Toddies Unlimited

Luang Prabang

Photo of Laos: Small Country, Great Adventure by Hot Toddies Unlimited

Si Phan Don

Photo of Laos: Small Country, Great Adventure by Hot Toddies Unlimited

Vang Vieng

Photo of Laos: Small Country, Great Adventure by Hot Toddies Unlimited

Kong Lor Caves

Photo of Laos: Small Country, Great Adventure by Hot Toddies Unlimited

Two Girls. One small country. A few rented motorbikes. A great adventure. 

This pretty much sums up our Laos trip for us. For a country of its size there is much to do in Laos. The country is sober and insane at the same time. It is what you plan to get out of it that matters. Laos belongs to the Golden Triangle making it easy for any junky to get hooked on opium. It’s easy to fly here high above nature, watching sitcoms smoking weed or opium, you can get stuck here for days. Of course it’s not legal but if you enter the right café you will be able to order ‘Happy’ pizza with mushrooms, opium or the traditional Lao weed joint.

Van Vieng was simply amazing!  We rented 2 semi-automatic motorbikes and explored the Vang Vieng’s landscape. We visited caves, waterfalls and the blue lagoon. The rain was on and off making the ride wet, muddy and interesting. For the first time I got a chance to ride a semi-automatic. Exciting! I am one step closer to learning how to ride a full manual motorbike. — This place is just simply fucking stunning — I stopped the bike and took out my camera for some wide-angle shots. It was a good day, a happy day, and a day that started with the release of stimulating endorphins.

The adventure got better as we reached Si Phan Don. We settled in to eat our juicy watermelon that we dragged from Pakse. After the first bite, we both entered a state of silence and the juicy flavor expanded our imaginations. — This is gooood. — Iza smiled. Swinging in hammocks, we talked, puffed, laughed and were happy to do nothing. During the afternoon we cruised on foot, it was a good way to check out the local life. The next morning, the sun shined and we hopped on bicycles for a ride through the islands. Scenery felt a bit like Bali, with many rice paddies, buffalo workers and rice pickers. I will say —Bali on crack — it’s more, more and more. More green, more workers, and more bicycling. Didn’t get to see the dolphins but we did see crazy rain on the Mekong River.

Our final adventure was the loop to Kong Lor Caves. Starting R8 we had 41 km to get to Kuan Kham. The 40 km stretch to the cave was a true experience of rice fields galore. Locals working in the water, picking rice while the green reflection of the landscape made our ride tranquil. Stopping often to record the moment we slowly made it to the cave.  After a brief visit to the caves, we continued to complete the loop. Coming back north to Kuan Kham we filled on spicy papaya salad and fried rice energy. We cruised in the afternoon light to Lak Sao, where we anticipated a fluffy bed. Twisty turns and many hills made it a pleasurable vista.

Laos has been a splendid adventure for the both of us. You will be surprised at how time flies here, but following are the places that you should definitely not miss out on! 

more on out trip to Lao at http://www.hottoddiesunlimited.com/search/label/Laos

Vientiane, Laos is where we first arrived from Bangkok. It’s also the capital of Laos, 300,000 people live here and enjoy the laid back life. Lao people are very good at enjoying the now, the super calm and the past. The first excitement of emotions in Vientiane for us was the taste of bread. Traveling for the past 6 months in Asia mainly munching on the local dishes like noodles, rice and more noodles, bread was something we were craving for. — A French baguette with cheese — was what hit the spot. We spent the first few days just chilling in the Scandinavian Bakery eating pastries, sipping on espressos and getting high on caffeine while watching ‘Dexter’. Afternoons we spent walking by the Mekong River observing the local fitness life and the colorful sunset.
Photo of Vientiane, Laos by Hot Toddies Unlimited
Luang Prabang is quite touristy with lots of flavor, this place has absolutely the best food night market with some tasty veggie options and kick ass BBQ, serving fresh fish and flesh meat. The street market offers uniquely characteristic goodies. We happened to be there off-season so there weren't many tourists. It was a pleasantly quiet street market with ambient and interesting souvenirs — a rainy vibrant atmosphere.
Photo of Luang Prabang, Laos by Hot Toddies Unlimited
We headed towards Vang Vieng, a well-known party place with tubing, kayaking and caving. Draw dropping peaks of limestone formations are the norm, this place is definitely a jewel. What a great place to spend your time and enjoy the new toy. We found an amazing room, with a kick ass 3D view of the Nam Song River overlooking karst formations. We rented 2 semi-automatic motorbikes and explored the Vang Vieng’s landscape. We visited caves, waterfalls and the blue lagoon. The rain was on and off making the ride wet, muddy and interesting.
Photo of Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Laos by Hot Toddies Unlimited
Kayaking down the Nam Song River is quite amazing, the views are stunning and the fast rapids make it exciting and scary.The kayak trip continued for few hours down the river, with fast rapids, Iza and her kayak partner were the first one to have a turnover. I saw the fear in Iza’s eyes. She looked excited, scared, and completely soaked. Tubing is another sought after activity here. It’s very popular to float on the tube from bar to bar getting smashed and eventually tubing down to Vang Vieng. Often in late afternoon or in darkness. These bars are no joke, with giant slides and hanging ropes, tubers are dangerously flying into the rapid water. It's scary at first, but gets fun eventually!
Photo of Nam Song River, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Laos by Hot Toddies Unlimited
Si Phan Don, an archipelago of sandbars and rocky islets surrounded by the Mekong River. It’s definitely a highlight in all guidebooks guiding through Laos. Traveler’s paradise for relaxing in a hammock and observing the laid back style. The most common and often visited islands are Don Det and Don Khon. Don Det has cheaper bungalow accommodations and is busier with bars and restaurants. Don Khon is home to two impressive waterfalls and from the south tip of the island is where you can spot the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. It’s also a fisherman’s paradise; they can be seen all over the Mekong cruising on their tail boats. Rural lifestyle, rice paddies, turquoise water and butterflies are what sparks Si Phan Don’s character.
Photo of Si Phan Don, Champassack, Laos by Hot Toddies Unlimited
The cave is a fresh newbie attraction where taking a long tail boat is the only way to explore the darkness wonder. The boat takes three people and costs 115,000 kip. We’ve seen many caves but this one was something else it was creepy, scary and cool. The entire ride on the long tail boat lasted about 2hr with a short walk passing stalactites and other funky cave formations. Shinning with weak torches we explored in deeper, it was truly an ancient underwater experience. Inevitable a though of gusting water and collapsing cave kept me alert and my imagination flowing. The height of the cave can reaches 100 meters, a huge dark dome. Highly recommended for cave lovers.
Photo of Kong Lor Cave, Khammouane, Laos by Hot Toddies Unlimited
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